The Dry Skin Mega Post

Friday, November 27, 2015

My @Curology (0.012% tretinoin + other good anti-aging stuff) is back in stock. Which means my pores and fine lines are scared (my tret works to keep them at bay) but I'm gonna have to rely on my suboon (Korean word for moisture) squad to keep the prescription strength tret from drying out my skin. My squad right now... -left to right -Holika Holika 99% aloe vera gel - this I reserve for my neck and buzzum. -@indie_lee squalane facial oil - a middling not too thin, not too thick emollient oil that gently smoothes over dry flakes -@beyondcosmetics angel aqua cream - a watery bouncy texture much like the cult laneige sleeping pack that contains panthenol, shea butter, macadamia oil, squalane, sprouts and is also a properly formulated ceramide cream with all the ratios in all the right places. The brand is eco friendly and #crueltyfree. -@physiogel daily moisture therapy cream is as solid and trustworthy as Cerave for keeping your skin drenched with moisture all day. It has more ceramides, more coconut oil, more shea butter, more everything someone with #dryskin would need. -@cosrx snail 96 essence is a great mid routine step that gives hydration and is great for calming down irritation and 'troubles'. -@hadalabotokyo gokujyun lotion is full of that #hyaluronicacid and is a cult classic I always keep in stock. Gives true hydration. It's the best sheet mask booster, just slip a little on before donning one. -the one that missed the photo op is the Miguhara hyalucollagen moisturizer. Just emptied but still deserves its place among its sistas. Chok chok (moisture) is the name of the game and I think I'm ready to play... weeeeeeeee! How are you battling dry skin? Have any tips?
A photo posted by kinseng (@kinsengnsq) on

One benefit of having hellaciously dry skin is that it serves as the perfect proving ground for facial moisturizers of all kinds. My reptilian facial skin has the kind of thirst that can often only be found on dating apps (ahem, Tinder? Grindr?) and anonymous location-based social networks (Whisper, Yik Yak, yes I'm talking about you).

Only it thirsts for water and oil.

Dry skin is skin that does not produce enough oil. In your teens and twenties, dry skin can be heaven sent. It can help you dodge the self-esteem damaging effects of acne and it sure is nice to not sparkle like a disco ball like the rest of your peers. However, at my age (winding down year 30 woo hoo!) dry skin is more a menace than a blessing. Dry skin in your thirties and beyond can mean that your once very fine lines and light wrinkles become amplified, and your skin starts to look dull. There are even rumors that dry skin can cause your skin to age faster (I don't believe this one.).

Because of this, I have/had been hoarding creams. 

Some were fails: see Banila Co The Black 17 Sleeping Pack, Tony Moly Naturalth Goat Milk Premium Moisture Cream, Dr. Jart Premium Firming Sleeping Mask, Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Pack.

And some ended up working out nicely for me: See Nature Republic Help Me Ceramide Cream,  Shara Shara Water Girls Ice Cream, Miguhara Hyalucollagen Moisturizer Aqua-Ctrl, Mizon Snail Recovery Gel, and the one that got me into Asian beauty products in the first place, the Mizon Snail Wrinkle Care Sleeping Pack.

If you can't tell, I am on a quest to find excellent moisturizers and have stumbled upon 7 dry skin solutions to feature for you today.

Part I. Shop My Stash: Which Moisturizer To Use? And When?

In this part, I will discuss what makes a great cream to me and what I look for when purchasing products to feature in the blog. Also, there are mini-reviews of 7 moisturizers of different types, and details about how they've been absorbed (pun intended) into my routine.  Disclosure: I purchased everything in today's post except for 2 products which will be designated with an asterisk. Also, there are some affiliate links in this post.

Part II. Dry Skin Be Gone: 6 Tricks to Treat Dry, Winter Skin

I've also been collecting dry skin tips from my own personal experience, others' experiences, and tips online to create a list of 6 tips and tricks to handle dry skin. Especially in winter, and especially for those seeking the level of plump, dewy, glowing transcendent skin that I strive for. If your bar is set at "I'm happy as long as my skin isn't flaking", then you may want to skip this section.

Part I. Shop My Stash: Which Moisturizer To Use? And When?

Whether you have severely dry skin (angry, painful, red, flaky) or dry-but-more-balanced skin (skin never gets oily, maybe it looks... a bit puckered with visible fine lines and wrinkles, you have a stray flaky patch or two) You may benefit from taking a "Shop My Stash" approach to your skin. That is, picking up a diverse, but small squad of moisturizers that can each help you achieve a different desired outcome for your skin.

Shopping My Stash

Every day, I will monitor the state of my skin, with the help of a mirror (this was inevitable, I'm a beauty blogger!and my trusty skin analyzerI then choose a combination of moisturizers to achieve my goal of: (1) Plump (2) Dewy (3) Glowing skin.

I make sure to keep in my squad of moisturizers -

(1) For plumpness, I look for thinner essences and lotions that can (anecdotal, not scientific) penetrate deeper into the skin and plump it from within. These are usually high in humectants (hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid) and skin-identical ingredients (ceramides, amino acids).

(2) For dewiness, creams that have a great blend of humectants AND oils. Humectants are the Kelis of the skincare world, its milkshake brings all the water to the yard. ^^ Sorry, that one was a stretch. But what I mean is that they bind water to the skin, and the higher oil content helps trap it, and also provides the skin with the oil content it so desperately lacks.

(3) For glow - based on anecdotal evidence, I most definitely have developed a preference for thin facial oils that contain high levels of antioxidants. (Marula oil is a favorite).

Lastly, when shopping for moisturizers, I also tend to keep in the back of my mind that I should most probably avoid ones with common acne triggers like stearic acid, caprylic/capric triglycerides (coconut oil derived) so that most people who stumble into can benefit from the products reviewed. Because I love y'all... ^^

So let's meet the squad. After over 4 weeks of practicing their routine together (except 1: a press sample, which is just a first impression, it made its way over to me a bit later than the rest), they're pretty perfectly synchronized.

Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil: Good for soothing irritated skin, smoothing dry flakes, and boosting the moisturizing effects of essences and sheet masks 

So necessary: a soothing, gentle facial oil. I have 2, and will buy more. 

INGREDIENTS 100% pure, olive-derived squalane oil

Squalane. I swear, squalane is the sea breeze. It's a yoga mantra. It's 'Serenity Now'. It just is... one of the most SOOTHING, CALMING substances I can put on my face. If you've ever used facial oils, you've probably encountered a few oils that just... don't really feel like oil. They don't spread very well, they might even have oil-wicking properties that hinder their ability to smooth down dry flakes. Squalane is not like that at all. It's an odorless (except this one smells like the rubber packaging a bit to my nose), richly emollient substance that is usually well-received by most skin types, simply because it's a substance that is mimics the lipid structures in the skin. One does not have to use a $32 / 30 ml squalane oil like the one depicted here. You can get it for $10.05 / 60 ml at Garden of Wisdom. But I will say that this Indie Lee packaging is not only model-esque (gorgeous), but also very luxurious and hefty. Plus Indie Lee customer service is at. another. level. Indie Lee, the founder herself, handled my questions and remarks about the eau de rubber I was picking up from the bottle. She found my feedback on Instagram, and sent a new bottle to make sure the scent was really there... and is now looking into whether the rubbery scent is affecting the rest of the products in her inventory. I can't say enough about how impressed and *faints* in love I am with her brand now.

HOW I USE IT I like to use it on its own to smooth down dry flakes. I also like to add it to the next product, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion, to create an even more emollient (easy to spread) essence oil. I use this mixture during the day in place of a facial mist during the winter. It also works well under a sheet mask to give an unmatched level of plumpness.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion: Good for a light burst of watery moisture, plumps the skin, makes skin glow, and boosts the moisturizing effects of sheet masks

It moves the needle in terms of adding hydration to the skin. This is a year-round staple.

On the left: the Hada Labo. On the right: The Indie Lee mixed into the Hada Labo. 

INGREDIENTS Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Succinate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Methylparaben, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Succinic Acid (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

This cult Japanese product is a year-round staple. It feels like sheet mask essence, so if you enjoy your sheet masks, this is like having a 10 second sheet mask on hand. It's slippery, watery, and glides onto the skin, drying down almost instantaneously while leaving no film on the skin. 
It contains many forms of one of the most sought after humectants Hyaluronic Acid (Kelis, remember?) . Furthermore, it leaves behind a feeling of saturated skin - if you can't picture what this feels like, think like a saturated bath towel. I absolutely love it, and can't imagine my skin without it. I cry thirsty tears when I run out of this stuff. Just a few parting notes - the flip-top bottle is plastic and dispenses the product out of a small opening. Also, the essence is odorless. 

HOW I USE IT I like to use it on its own after cleansing and applying active ingredients. If my skin is looking especially pruny that day, I will mix this with the Indie Lee squalane and another serum (for kicks) and slather it on under a sheet mask to force it into my skin. I mentioned adding it to the Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil to create a richer essence oil to use in place of a mid-day facial mist during the winter. 

LINKS $11.99 (170ml) at Amazon |  $19.99 (170ml) at often going on sale | also available at Walgreens online/offline, usually around $19.99 but often going on sale.

CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence*: A light, multi-purpose snail mucin moisturizer, good for making skin glow, calming redness and irritation (unless allergic, may also help heal acne and hyperpigmentation according to some), making skin look dewy 
Taken from my past review of the CosRX Snail 96 here.

INGREDIENTS Snail Secretion Filtrate (96%), Betaine, Butylene Glycol,1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Arginine, Allantoin, Ethyl Hexanediol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

If you're Team Snail Mucin - this contains 96% of pure snail mucin, collected from the adorable pet snails gooing it up in CosRX's snail nap rooms. If you're not Team Snail Mucin - let's try to convince you. Snail mucin is a moisturizer in its own class. It's not watery, and it's not oily... If I take a stab at describing it in detail - it's gooey, but not sticky, and extremely substantial without being overpoweringly rich. It's also odorless. Snail is what first got my angry dry skin to become slightly calmer - able-to-be-coaxed into pretending it's normal. Like I stated in the introduction for this product, it makes my skin look both glowy AND dewy, and evens my skin tone. It apparently also does things for acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation but I haven't been able to test this claim. If you want to learn more about snail mucin (which is a compound containing many other ingredients), check out my previous review of this product here.

HOW I USE IT I like to use it as a morning moisturizer. It is usually enough to hold my dry winter skin over until the afternoon. Like the Hada Labo/Indie Lee essence oil mixture, it works well to rehydrate my skin mid-day as though it were a facial mist. It's light and easily spread so it won't completely destroy your makeup, though I do touch up afterwards. This is also a great nighttime moisturizer for me when I've used an amazingly hydrating sheet mask. If my skin is taken to oil and water levels that earn a Smily Face on my skin analyzer, I feel comfortable using this as my last moisturizer. (This is a rare occurrence that happens with only my holy grail sheet masks).

Beyond Angel Aqua Cream: Good for a really balanced burst of both hydration and moisture, never fails to penetrate into the skin to plump it from within, gives glow and dew

INGREDIENTS Onsen-sui (spring/spa water), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasilaxone, Water, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Squalane, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Soleirolia Soleirolli Extract, Brassica Napus Sprout Extract, Brassica Campestris Sprout Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica Sprout Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethylhexanoin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ceramide 3, Cholesterol, Stearic Acid, Malachite Extract, Arachidyl Glucoside, C14-22 Alcohols, Dimethiconol, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Silica, Nylon-12, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Trisodium EDTA (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

Aesthetically speaking, this is my favorite product in today's post. It's a sensory people-pleaser for sure.
Smell - extremely faint, but very fresh with a hint of citrus. It doesn't contain any synthetic or fragrant botanicals.
Sight - it's blue! And the packaging makes my ovaries squeal. Just a side note, the little bottle off to the side was a gift with purchase, it's a hydrating toner from the same Angel Aqua line. 
Touch - though it looks quite thick, it's thinner than you expect and contains much water. There are a lot of heavier emollient oils and other substances in the cream but you would never know it.
I never knew a ceramide cream could feel like this. (Coooome what maaaay...) It's light and refreshing and gives my skin a really desirable cocktail of soothing botanical extracts and skin-identical substances. The brand story also stood out to me, as it may to you. Beyond is one of the few cruelty-free Korean brands. They're also committed to ethical sourcing and being environmentally responsible (as subjective as that may be). 

HOW I USE IT This is my ideal morning moisturizer. It soaks the skin yet absorbs almost completely. I also really love to use this as a final moisturizer at night when I've used an above-average sheet mask. I find that this combination leads me to wake up with baby soft, and still moisturized skin. 

D'ran Wonder Snail Treatment Cream*: Good for more heavy-duty moisture despite its medium-weight formula, calibrates dry, flaky skin and brings it back to normal. Saturates the skin with lasting moisture, makes skin soft

A great gift from Mishibox

INGREDIENTS Snail Secretion Filtrate (10%), Glycerin, Glyceryl Acrylate / Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Silkworm Cocoon Extract, Niacinamide, Dipropylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cyclotmethicone Dimethicone, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyacylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Xanthan gum, PEG-100 Stearate, Panthenol, Polysorbate 60, Argan Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Human Oligopeptide-1, Camellia Sinensis Callus Culture Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Triethanolamine, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

The real wonder is... How did a 10% Snail Secretion Filtrate cream make its way into my collection? I love snail mucin so much that most snail creams I have are closer to 100% than 10%. I would NEVER have picked up this cream on my own. So much thanks goes to the lovely people at Mishibox for sending this one in their November box (unboxing pending). I love this cream. It's one of two that I rely on when my skin is in dire need of moisture, like on a night when sheet masking is out of the question (for laziness reasons). This cream will make up for the lack of a sheet mask and then some. It's this gloopy, white gel cream texture that smells like baby powder / florals / cosmetics (It's the strongest scent out of the products reviewed so far). It does have a bit of a silicone-y feel to it, for those that are averse to that baby powder-y texture. I've noticed that while I don't seek out products with silicones in them, I do enjoy that these products dry down a bit quicker, and with a more velvety finish than other products. Its brightening claims I can't really speak to, but it does contain the potent anti-aging antioxidants - niacinamide and sericin. This is an absolutely fabulous cream that can serve even as a sleeping mask. While it's a bit too precious to use on the body, I found that my hands and arms soak it up as well on the rare occasions I do.

HOW I USE IT I tend to use this at night, on nights when I need extra moisture. This may suffocate oily skin a bit, but works to soften normal to dry skin extremely well. 

Stiefel Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy Cream: Good for heavy-duty moisture retention, will heal dry, flaky skin, will saturate the skin with lasting moisture, making skin soft

Worthy of buying back ups.

INGREDIENTS Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Squalane, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Carbomer, Ceramide 3 (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

This is my functional favorite. I will never be without this cream ever in the winter. When the winter winds start whipping my face into a dry, flaky mess, using THIS cream is how I clap back at them. It's my skin's bodyguard when it starts playing the diva. It's a lot of things - it's rich, it's plush and firm, it's still very emollient and does not tug like shea butter or a balm. It also doesn't leave a film upon dry down, but your skin will feel just slightly (for lack of a more accurate word) sticky. 
This product feels like a healing ointment for angry, dry skin and I use it often, especially after having spent time outside. Just for reference, we've already had our first snowfall around these parts.
It's heavy, so oily skin might revolt against this one but it feels heavenly on dry skin.  I have backups upon backups of this cream and think it's a must for anyone with chronically dry skin. 

HOW I USE IT I use this at night as a last step as needed. It seals in moisture overnight and I wake up with my skin still looking like I pampered it the night before. I also use this after having spent a lot of time outside.

LINKS $21.20 (75ml) at Amazon | Or for a pack of 2, $40.50 (75mlx2) at Amazon 

Beyond Lucky Cream The Classic: Good for heavy-duty moisture retention, think body butter except just a tad lighter

The packaging is to die for!

INGREDIENTS Water, Glycerin, Cyclo Hexasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Macadamia Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Tri ethylhexanoine, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ethyl Dimethyl Silane, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Penta ... triethylhexanoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Fermented Mistletoe Extract, Lactobacillus/Fermented Soybean Extract, Fermented root extract, Ceramide-3, Sodium Hyaluronate, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Stearate, Bitter Orange Extract, Panthenol, Stearic Acid, Tromethamine, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxy Ethyl ... Sulfonic Acid, Acrylate/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, Carbomer, Urea, Trisodium EDTA, White 5, White 4, Fragrance (COSDNA ANALYSIS)

Another one from Beyond. I gambled on this one as the ingredients list was almost nowhere to be found. It's not my favorite, but it does have some redeeming qualities to it that some may be interested in. But first, why I'm not the biggest fan...
The formula feels like a light body butter which unfortunately means that it doesn't spread as easily onto the skin. It kind of feels old hat to me, if that makes sense. The K-beauty world has so many new and interesting textures to play with that this one, while classic, was less fun, or 'skincaretain-y'. It also smells quite strongly of citrus - yuzu/orange - which is not a scent I prefer near my nose. 
This one I definitely would not recommend to anyone with acne prone skin as it contains fatty alcohols and stearic acid. On my skin - devoid of oil and not unlike steel - it works fine. 
I also do not recommend this cream to those with oily skin as it may feel a bit stifling. I already know I will not be repurchasing this and am considering demoting it to a body product. 

HOW I USE IT I use this at night as a last step as needed. It seals in moisture overnight and I wake up with my skin still looking like I pampered it the night before. I also use this after having spent a lot of time outside.

LINKS It is a great value though since there's 2x product compared to most creams

Those are all of the reviews for today, please remember... Your Mileage May Vary according to your skincare preferences and your individual skin type. Now excuse me while I go and finish up my routine...

Part II. Dry Skin Be Gone: 6 Tricks to Treat Dry, Winter Skin

I've also been collecting dry skin tips from my own personal experience, others' experiences, and tips online to create a list of 6 tips and tricks to handle dry skin. 

1. The first tip or trick is one that I hope is widely known, and that is to avoid long, hot showers and baths in the winter. While this is tempting, it will only dry your skin out more and I've found it aggravates the eczema patch on my back like crazy.

2. The second is to sleep away from the vents in the room. My skin looks and feels much different depending on which side of the bed I've slept on. If I sleep away from the vent, my skin doesn't look much different than it did the night before, after having done my skincare routine. If I shift just the few feet toward the vent, my skin will look extremely dehydrated and ragged.

3. Always carry a hydrating product to use mid-day. Also, consider using it mixed into your makeup as well for extra protection against the wind. Again, this is not my own tip, more just common sense. In the winter time, I opt for heavier foundation and makeup than I usually prefer to guard against the wind. Adding in a bit of moisturizer to the product helps to thin out the coverage and further moisturize and protect the skin from drying out. I like to keep the moisturizer (Indie Lee, Hada Labo, CosRX Snail 96) with me to touch up throughout the day.

4. Don't let your skin dry out between cleansing and your routine. This is quite a common refrain in Korean skincare folklore... and it's something I've learned from the women in my family. That is to quickly follow your cleanse with your first layer of skincare as soon as possible. I keep a mist by the side of my sink to keep my skin hydrated between skincare steps.

5. If your skin looks and feels especially dry, use a cream or oil BEFORE a sheet mask. Usually we boost our sheet masks with light essences, serums, and ampoules with brightening or anti-aging effects. But when the issue is more along the lines of dry, chapped skin, using a cream or oil before the mask will help smooth down the dry flakes quickly and effectively.

6. Consider opting for a hydrating wash-off mask in place of your morning cleanse. Most are averse to not using face wash in the mornings, but for those of us with dry skin, the A.M. cleanse can have the unintended effect of worsening our dry skin condition. Using a wash-off mask will lightly exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, and get rid of product residue from the night before, without being as stripping as a foaming facial cleanser.

What makes a great moisturizer to you?
Have you tried any of these products?
Do you have any winter skin tricks?
Please do share!

Disclosure: I purchased most of the items in this post. There are two press samples sent by and I am not compensated for my views. Some affiliate links are used in this post. Clicking on an affiliate link returns a small sum to me at no cost to you as the consumer. Doing so is appreciated as it helps to support this blog. If you are curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.

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